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Top Chef Fodder

Top Chef Masters -- Offal Tasty

Knowing the title of today's episode is "Offal Tasty" doesn't leave much to the imagination. Obviously the cheftestants are going to be cooking some kind of organ meat. The bigger question to me is - which ones? Liver, stomach, brains or the less "popular" heart, testicles, innards? OK, so maybe it is unfair to label any offal as less popular, as there are large parts of the world (including this community) that enjoy offal on a regular basis. Let's see which masters have been brought in for the challenge.

Wilo Benet - San Juan, Puerto Rico. Chef owner of Pikayo (and a judge from the season that ended in Puerto Rico). His charity is San Jorge Children's Foundation.

Cindy Pawlcyn - Napa, California. Chef owner of Mustards Grill. Her charity is Clinic Ole.

Ludovic Lefebvre - Los Angeles, California. Chef owner of Ludo Bites. His charity is C.H.A.S.E. for life.

Rick Bayless - Chicago, Illinois. Chef owner of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo (GO RICK! - can you tell I'm from Chi, and love Mexican food?) His charity is Frontera Farmer Foundation.

The chefs were asked to draw knives for the quickfire challenge. Each knife was a different color. The chefs were to create a dish using foods of the color they chose. Wilo drew orange; Cindy drew yellow; Ludo drew red; Rick drew green.

The judges they had for this contest were food stylists and photographers. Three women, Chris, Joan and Christina.

Wilo created a lovely smoked salmon tartar with coconut milk and tomato paste sauce. They loved the look and taste, but would have preferred it if he had remembered to take off the ring that he used to shape the salmon. 4.5 stars

Cindy went with a yellow veggie curry over sweet corn grits and fried corn tortilla. The judges enjoyed it, but they didn't love it. 3.5 stars

Ludo had some trouble with time management. He made a steak tartar with watermelon and red onions with a red beet gazpacho. There was supposed to be a tomato that didn't get plated on time and the waiters forgot to bring the gazpacho (that Cindy plated for him) to the table right away. Unfortunately for Ludo, it may have been better without the gazpacho, when it was poured over the tartar, it looked like bright red blood all over the plate. Appetizing! 3 stars

Rick roasted some veggies and covered them with mole verde (made with tomatillos -yum), green chilies and pumpkin seeds. It was served up on a banana leaf. 4 stars

They were told their elimination challenge was to serve street food to hungry people at Universal Studios Hollywood. Then they had to draw knives again. These knives had a number on them which corresponded to a covered serving dish. The serving dishes revealed offal -tada! Here is how the drawing went: Wilo - Beef hearts; Cindy - Tripe; Ludo - Pig Ears; Rick - Tongue. They were given $300 and half an hour to shop at Whole Foods, then 3 hours of prep today with 1 hour of cooking and preparation on site.

Wilo has never worked with or tasted beef hearts before. He decides to slice them very thin and use them as part of a "tripleta". This is a traditional Puerto Rican sandwich that has beef, ham and chicken. It is traditionally served on a Puerto Rican roll, but he serves them in a pita with spicy or non-spicy sauce.

Cindy takes her tripe and makes Menudo (no not the boy band from the 80's!), but a traditional Mexican soup/hangover cure. It is made with tripe and therefore is quite appropriate. The problem is that tripe takes a looooong time to cook properly and she didn't know how to use a pressure cooker - she does now, thanks to Rick Bayless. It turned out to be a cold day, so soup was very welcome to the guests.

Ludo decided to make quesadillas. He has never made quesadillas before, so he has to ask Rick what cheese he should use. He cooks the pig ears the day before and then made his quesadillas on site. Since he hadn't made them before and wasn't quite sure how to make the equipment work to cook them properly, he was at a disadvantage, but then why would you put yourself in such a place? He added chorizo, pinto bean puree and lime aioli to complete the dish.

Rick took the lengua and made tacos. Cooked the tongue in the pressure cooker, as it also takes a long time to tenderize. He mixed the tongue with chorizo, bacon, guacamole and pickled onions - all served on a corn tortilla. Yum. Gael actually said she wanted another one. Yum!

The final results are:

Cindy 15.5 stars; Ludo 16.5 stars; Wilo 19.5 stars and Rick 22.5 stars.

Rick Bayless wins this round! Way to go Rick!!!! His charity will get $10,000 and he makes it to the next round to compete for $100,000. Wonder who will join him and the others? Tune in next week!! I know I will!

Posted by Wendy on June 25, 2009 9:12 PM
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